Unintentional, preventable injuries – commonly known as "accidents" – claimed a record high 161,374 lives in 2016 to become the third leading cause of death in the United States for the first time in recorded historyAn American is accidentally injured every second and killed every three minutes by a preventable event – a drug overdose, a motor vehicle crash, a fall, a drowning, a choking incident or another preventable incident.

The spike in preventable deaths has been fueled by the opioid crisis. Unintentional opioid overdose deaths totaled 37,814 from drugs including prescription opioid pain relievers, heroin, and illicitly-made fentanyl.

Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council said,

For years our country has accepted unintentional injuries as an unavoidable reality. The truth is, there is no such thing as an accident. Every single one of these deaths was preventable. We know what to do to save lives, but collectively we have failed to prioritize safety at work, at home and on the road.

Preventable deaths have been rising since 2009 and they trail only heart disease and cancer when it comes to the number of lives lost annually. Unlike other causes of death, preventable injuries are a threat at every age.